BBC Global News has signed an exclusive deal with ad-tech firm TripleLift to serve native advertising to its U.S. and Canadian audiences.
It’s the first programmatic deal for the British public news service, which was founded in 1922 as a radio broadcaster. Previously, space inside digital stories was used for internal promotion. BBC Global News has used sticky ads, glued to the masthead, that remained fixed on screen.
TripleLift’s technology offers a boost for the BBC and other publishers struggling to capture meaningful ad revenue during the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite spikes in readership in recent months, many publishers have struggled to monetize views because keyword blocklists steer advertisers away from content with words like “coronavirus” or “pandemic.”
The struggle with blocklists continued with coverage of the Black Lives Matter protests last month, when keywords like “demonstration” were blocked. Last month, Vice called on advertisers to stop keyword bans, noting that because of blocklists, its own protest coverage was monetized 57% less than its other news coverage.
Publishers face additional challenges from social media companies. According to a Reuters study released last month, most consumers get their news from third parties, like social media sites, rather than directly from publishers. Publishers then lose ad revenue and pageviews to Facebook, Twitter and aggregators.
TripleLift calls itself “the go-to alternative for Facebook,” promising brand safety for both publishers and advertisers. In addition to in-feed native ads, the company offers OTT and branded content, including video.
TripleLift’s alternative approach has already begun to benefit BBC Global News, according to the publisher.
Total viewability of BBC.com averages 67%, according to the broadcaster, while some sections with native ads have consistently scored above 70%. BBC said the new ad tech has allowed it to participate in 10 times the number of auctions it previously bid on.
“The industry and our communities count on thriving news networks, and a direct-to-publisher relationship helps ensure that,” said Michael Lehman, svp of global supply at TripleLift, in a statement.